Archive for the ‘Frugality’ Category

In an effort to save more money on produce, since I want to buy a lot for making veggie juice and smoothies, I saw online that a lot of people who eat raw foods, veggie juices, vegan meals, etc. find wholesale prices quite helpful.  After looking into things some more, I decided to renew my membership at a wholesale grocer (it’s been a few years since I’ve had one).  It came out to about $4.20 a month.  If I save that much on groceries, then it makes the membership worth it.

I came home with a 10 pounds of grapefruit, 10 pounds of organic carrots, a huge bag of romaine hearts, a large package of organic spinach, and some blackberries.  I also walked around the entire store and made note of things that I could purchase on later trips (A little at a time!).

The carrots (organic) at the wholesale store were $0.60 a pound.  At my local grocery store (known for it’s low prices), organic carrots were recently $1.27 a pound.  That’s $0.67 a pound less and a savings of $6.70 if I had purchased the same amount of carrots from my local store.  That $6.70 was more than the cost of the month’s membership, so to me, it was worth it!

So far, most of the grapefruit have been juiced in my citrus juicer (and stored in mason jars).  The blackberries have been great snacks at work and they’ll probably go into my next breakfast smoothie.  I’ve already used some of the carrots and spinach in my juicer, and I’ll add in the romaine the next time I make veggie juice.  The veggies will also be great for lunch or dinner salads.

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Grocery Budgeting

This month, I made myself keep track of my grocery spending.  I used an Excel Spreadsheet, which helped in organizing my spending.

Each week, I used my weekly menu to estimate the cost of my upcoming grocery trip in the spreadsheet.  I listed items by category:  produce, meat, grocery items, dairy, frozen items, and other.  Estimating gave me a chance to change my menu and drop items from my list if they sent my estimated cost soaring.  After shopping, I would enter the price of each item.  If I went to different stores during the week, I listed each store’s shopping in a separate column.  Each week, I would create a new sheet in the same document.  I also had a sheet that would list my weekly spending by month.  I was surprised at the amount I was spending.  I was not being very frugal in my grocery choices.

The spreadsheet also became a great price book.  Each week, I would better be able to estimate costs.  I was also more cognizant of prices at the store.  For instance, if I estimated spending a certain amount on potatoes, I was more aware of the actual costs, especially if I found a great sale.  I also liked doing a spreadsheet price book and grocery spending itemization, instead of one on paper.  When using a notebook, you have to estimate the number of pages you would need for produce, groceries, meat, etc.  By using a spreadsheet, I could adjust the number of rows I needed.  If I was purchasing a lot of produce in one week, I could easily add more rows to that section.

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Want to make a coupon binder to organize all of your coupons?

I’ve put all 3 posts on one page!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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I decided to make my own pocket calendar after a fruitless search for one that I liked.  I took a used mini-composition book and covered it with scrapbooking paper and packing tape.  Then, I printed out mini calendars, cut them out, and glued them into the book.

Since then, I’ve also added a price book to my calendar book.  I printed out mini spreadsheets that allow me to write store names, dates, prices, item sizes, and prices per unit, with one page per item.  Every time I find a better price, either in a store or in a grocery ad, I write it in the price book.  Now, when I see chicken breasts for $1.97 a pound, I can look in my price book and see that they went for $1.29 a pound last month. It really helps me to save money.  (I got the price book idea from Family Feasts for $75 a Week, which was written by Mary at Owlhaven.)

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Update on 30 Days of Nothing

At the beginning of September, I set out to do Owl Haven’s 30 Days of Nothing.  I made a goal to eat more at home and spend less.  I made a monthly menu, purchased food for the month, and began.

It all went well the first half of the month.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner came from home.  About the middle of the month, I believe that I started to get a bit stressed here and there (lots to do at work?).  I also got bored of my boring menu (I repeated the same meals every 1-2 weeks on my menu) and I started eating out at restaurants more (Boston Market, Kolache stores,…).

Then came the gardening project.  It started small, but escalated quickly.  First, I bought three 6-packs of veggies, a few annuals, and some 50% off perennials (actually, I got two $7 ones free, because they looked pretty pathetic – now, they look great!).  Then, I started getting more and more compost/soil.  After that, I bought 4 kinds of bulbs and a flat of 18 snapdragons.  Of course, there were more trips for more compost.

I kept telling myself that the veggies would save us money at the store, and that the perennials and bulbs would come back every year.  Plus, I was having a FABULOUS time gardening in the sunlight for hours at a time.  Sunlight is good for me.  As it’s darker in the mornings now, I use a S.A.D. light therapy box every morning as I read my Scriptures and eat breakfast.  Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D., is a real problem for those who are susceptible to the effects of reduced natural sunlight.  It can cause lethargy (I stand around in the morning, staring into space.  My husband has to remind me to get moving) and weight gain. – Hmm, is that why I’ve gained weight recently?  No, it must have been that ice cream and cake…

This past week of gardening has made me SOOOO happy everyday.  Aside from Church, I spent the entire weekend outside.  Each day at work, I looked forward to the time when I would be able to go back outside and garden some more.

Now that I think about it, it would be fun to start on the backyard, right?!!

Anyways, I was successful for the first part of the month.  I’m glad that I got outside to garden, although I admit that I did purchase quite a bit for my garden.  To help with the menu problem, in future, I plan to vary the foods that I will prepare.  My best friend got me a gift card for my birthday, so I purchased a subscription to Clean Eating Magazine.  It’s fabulous, because it gives recipes, shopping lists, and monthly menus (including snacks!)

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More on Brownies…

Recently, I’ve posted about making brownies with beans, as well as making regular brownies with chocolate chips (see the recipe at the bottom of the second paragraph).

I also made a double batch of brownies about 2 weeks ago, which I used as gifts for co-workers (end of the school year).  After the brownies cooled, I sliced them and put them into clear celophane gift baggies (I bought them at the dollar store.).  Before I closed them with the included twist ties, I attached small thank you notes to the twist ties.  I made them by typing and printing short thank you messages, cutting them out, gluing them onto colored construction paper, cutting those out with decorative scissors, and then punching a hole in the corner with a hole puncher.  They were so cute!  They were also frugal!

Anyways, I’ve been trying different ways of preparing the brownie pans so that the brownies don’t stick.  Using non-stick spray alone doesn’t work – the brownies stick to the pan.  I tried coating the pan with whole wheat flour (darker than white flour) after spraying the pan, but the brownies seemed a bit chewier/grittier.  It uses a bit more of your cocoa, but I’ve found that the best way (so far…) of keeping the brownies from sticking to the pan, while still not having white undersides (from white flour), is to spray the pan and then coat it with cocoa.  It also gives the brownies a bit of an extra chocolate “kick,” which I love.  The chocolatier, the better!

Here is a picture of a batch of brownies that I’ve made.  It’s not the most elegant picture, but they sure were tasty!

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May 28

I went to CVS to purchase deodorant and shampoo.  I had $1.50 in coupons.  After seeing the $5.49 price for deodorant, I left, thinking that I would try HEB for lower prices.  At the library, I realized that I had $6 in Extra Bucks from my previous shopping trip ($3 was if you spent $15).  

I went back to CVS, got 2 deodorants, 2 shampoo bottles (the $1.50 was $1 off of 2 deodorants and $.50 off of 2 shampoo bottles), and some travel toothbrush covers (pack of 4 for $2).  I only needed one, but the package had four.

After using my $7.50 in combined coupons (clipped coupons and Extra Bucks), I paid $9.  It wasn’t the best savings I’ve done, but it was still less than paying full price.

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Swimsuit Cover Up

Over the winter, I wore a blue sweatsuit and blue flip flops after I swam.  Now that it is in the nineties every day, I’ve been coming home wrapped in a hot pink (not in a pretty way) beach towel.  Last week (or the week before?), I wanted to go into the grocery store after my swim.  At a stoplight and in the grocery store parking lot, I had to put my nice work clothes over my swimsuit.  Not fun.

After that, I went to Ross and purchased a knee-length dress to use as a coverup.  I never took the tags off, and I’m glad I didn’t.

Today, I went to Academy and used a gift card to purchase an actual swimsuit coverup dress.  It’s black and made of a gauzy (not see through) fabric.  It also fits a bit looser than the Ross dress.  Also using my gift card, I purchased a $3 pair of black flip flops.  One, they matched the coverup.  Two, they seemed like my heels wouldn’t slip off of them as much when they were wet.  My old, blue pair (Old Navy) were quite slippery when wet.

After that, I returned the Ross dress and now have more cash in my wallet!

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Organizing Coupons

I’ve tried several methods of organizing my coupons.  A store-bought coupon-specific organizer didn’t work, because I couldn’t view the coupons.  Plus the organizer’s categories didn’t match my personal categories.  It made it difficult to filter out coupons when you wanted to see what you had at the store (shuffle, shuffle, shuffle every time to get to a new product that you might want to get).  It was also difficult to find out if they had expired, because you had to shuffle through each one.

I went to a dollar store and purchased a small photo album that would hold about 20-30 photos.  It seemed to work for coupons, because I could seen them, but their wasn’t enough room in the album for all of my photos.  I was having to fold the coupons to fit two to a sleeve, which didn’t allow you to view all of the important information that you needed to see on the coupons.

I went back to the dollar store and purchased a larger photo album that would hold 100 photos.  This way, I had a separate sleeve for each coupon, which was great because I’d often get two different coupon deals for the same item.  The  see-through sleeves were great, because I was able to view the product picture, expiration date, and coupon deal.  (I know that some savvy coupon-cutting ladies use a 3-ring binder with baseball card sleeves, but that’s a bit too big for me right now.  I’m still learning how to use coupons effectively, and I’m only purchasing food for two people.  I’m sure that if I eventually fill up my 100-photo album with coupons, I’ll be out looking for a bigger organizer!)

Here are some pictures of my coupon organizer.

You can see that the photo album is about the length of a pen.  It’s a good size for carrying around the grocery store.  I usually put my grocery list in the first sleeve of the album, so my list is very easy to refer to in the store.  (I divide my shopping list into quadrants according to item locations in the store.  I have 6 boxes on my list:  produce, deli, meats, groceries, dairy, and pharmacy.  If an item on my list has a coupon, I put a circled ‘c’ next to the item.)

Here, I have two coupon deals for cereal on facing pages.  On the left, you save $1 on 2.  On the right, you save $1 on 3.

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